And I’m Back in the Room

A whiff of spring and goats cheese

‘You’re so disruptive. We didn’t have any of that noise while you were away’ said Baz

And indeed the washing machine – whose spin cycle was disturbing his enjoyment of a television programme – had been completely untroubled by anyone in the five days I was in France, jumping to life only because I needed to thoroughly de-pigeon everything, all my clothes, as soon as I walked in

Back home I am now adjusting, albeit temporarily, to a world where a mild and harmless addiction to goats cheese somehow incites abuse and criticism from my nearest and dearest

At least Ebay was glad to see me

Having been thinking hard about the impending creation of our first bathroom (whoop whoop!!), there was a brief spike on my Ebay activity at the weekend. It’s over now – or so I tell Baz

And suddenly the seasons feel as though they are changing. There has been sunshine and a real feeling of spring. The brambles were already dipping their toes, hoping to set down new roots, and bulbs are poking their heads up everywhere. I removed so much debris from the border in front of the house that I had to borrow a second green bin from a neighbour, and I even discovered that there is another foot of wall to paint at the bottom of part of the house! Ha ha! Who knew?!

My Mum told me recently that her partner bought some lovely plants from a Pound Shop, and sure enough, I found boxed roses and shrubs on a shelf for a quid. The bare root season is almost over and they will no doubt be chucked away if unsold, so I grabbed a couple of pink roses, a red climbing rose and a pink honeysuckle. There’s something so appealing about the resilience of ‘rescue’ plants and they all show signs of life (the red climber, perhaps only just). I’ve stuck them in small pots to start them off and I hope they will soon be relaxing into their newfound homes. It felt good just to be planting something after the winter

My next project at home is the front garden, where I need to dig over enough ground to create a small vegetable plot. I may no longer have an allotment, but there’s no reason why we can’t grow some beans, tomatoes and mange tout alongside the strawberries. And it gives me an excuse to spy on the girls (once they are finally released from their long DEFRA-enforced house arrest – hopefully at the end of February, though it could be longer still)

So, I know what I am doing this weekend, and it involves painting, clearing the greenhouse in preparation for planting seeds and generally being outside, topping up my Vitamin D

Oh, and popping over to collect my latest Ebay purchase …

Raising an Eyebrow

A wooden front door is a thing of beauty. Take care of it

‘Are you going to do it red again? Red is the most common colour of front door, you know’

‘I’m not telling you. You’ll see soon enough’

‘I bet it’s going to be one of those bluey-greens. Or orange. Is that orange?’

My neighbour interrogated me. Over the course of the week I had sanded down the paintwork of the front door and we had added a rain deflector to the bottom of the front door. Understandably, it was looking a lot worse than before I started

Various paint testers with their numbers scribbled alongside had remained for over a year because I just couldn’t decide. Eventually I found inspiration from a house we pass on the way home from work each day. It was quite a departure for meIMG_9544

That Sunday was hot. Really hot. By nine that morning the door was off and placed on the workbench in the garage for priming. I hadn’t accounted for the cotton candy seed which was floating thickly in the air that day, so Baz had to close the garage door on me while I worked, to try and keep it from sticking to the paint. This created almost perfect paint oven conditions, but made me feel hot and claustrophobic. Nonetheless, I soon achieved the zen-like state that can only be reached when you like your choice of finish – in this case, Mylands ‘Bond Street’ in a dead flat finish. It looks restrained, contemporary and very poshIMG_9589

1930s houses with original features are sadly in decline, with people taking practical decisions which involve PVCU doors and windows. Never one to follow the herd, when C was small I bought an ‘eyebrow’ door for the house. It was too big and the orientation was wrong for the house, so Baz thought I’d really screwed up, but a carpenter trimmed and hung it for me. Unfortunately the wood was not in great condition, so I filled and sanded as best I could in situ and painted it (badly) in bright red

I didn’t care what Baz thought. It made me smile

So, a decade or so later it deserved a re-visit. Front doors have to withstand constant to-ing and fro-ing, and are the first line of defence against the extremes of weather. This door has spent the best part of a century in service, and it still does so with style and substance. It has earned all its imperfections and it carries them well

I am no expert, but the matt finish has helped to disguise some of its dings and imperfections and it makes the fielding look crisp, way better than the red gloss before

And my neighbour’s verdict?

‘The undercoat looks very nice. What colour is it going to be?’

‘Colour and I are One’


‘Colour and I are One’. So said Paul Klee, one of the most exciting artists of the 20th Century. Certainly colour can provoke a strong emotional reaction, and this will be on a daily basis when used in our homes

Blog shots
Castle and Sun – Paul Klee

Like so many people, I pore over colour charts and long to possess the shades therein. Choosing one is limiting, yet I also love the commitment of applying paint to wall after all the preparation

When we moved in to our first flat in Eton it was a blank magnolia canvas, so I indulged myself in reds, yellows and oranges. Baz soon joked that the rooms were becoming smaller due to the number of coats of coloured paint I applied. Then we moved to our little house and when Charlotte was born I painted all the walls in soft buttery yellows to be warm and uplifting. Sixteen years down the line I have replaced pretty much all of this, always happy to have an excuse to re-decorate. Repeatedly. Eventually the novelty wore off and RSI started to set in, and so our hallway still remains unfinished in one corner

I love the brights, but of course there are some wonderfully subtle yet highly pigmented shades, muddied and grounded by earth tones. These have been championed by the rather smug middle-class heritage paint producers, who seem to have plucked them out of an imagined past, charging us a premium for having given them their ancestry and poetic names (‘Elephant’s Breath’, ‘Mole’s Breath’,’Mouse’s Back’ etc.)

As for ‘Cats Paw’? – if I had a cat with paws that colour I would not expect it to come back from the vet…

A member of the family, a professional carpenter and decorator who can recognise the exact F and B shade painted on a wall, tells me that these colours can be reliably matched as trade paints way more cheaply and with higher quality paint, and that when someone asks for a particular F and B paint colour he uses a matched Leyland trade paint and his customers are very happy. So this is something I plan to research. It may be a disappointment, but I have to check it out because regrettably I have to take care of the pennies on the French house. And because it really appeals to my inner ‘Belligerent Bitch’ (which would no doubt be an intense blood-red on the chart)

Does anyone out there have any experience they can share of this matching service?